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Things to watch for in the final ten games

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As the misery draws to an end

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Chicago Blackhawks<br> Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

There are ten games remaining in the season for the Colorado Avalanche. Thank God this misery is almost over. Most fans gave up in December along with the majority of the players. I can’t say I blame you. There are much better things to do with three hours of your life than watch the Avalanche play some form of hockey.

However, if you’re one of those brave souls that are planning to stick it out until the end, watching almost every second of these final ten games; first, let me just say that you’re a better person than I. Second, here are some things you might be looking for as the Avs try to avoid being the worst team in the shootout era.

Can Nathan MacKinnon reach fifty points?

He current sits at 45 points. One would think that a player as talented as MacKinnon would be able to get one point every other game, but not so fast my friends. MacKinnon has just one point in his last five games and four points in ten games during the month of March. The Avalanche average less than two goals a game. There’s a good chance they get shutout at least two more times this year. After his performance in the World Cup of Hockey and the excitement of a new direction surrounding the team heading into the season, MacKinnon failing to reach 50 points would really put a bow on this season.

Can Matt Duchene reach twenty goals?

He only needs three to do it. Once again, one would think that a player as talented as Duchene would be able to get three goals in ten games, but we’re talking about the Avalanche here. Duchene has….wait for it….two goals in his last 28 games. When you realize that fact, you begin to wonder whether or not he can even reach 18 goals on the season. After scoring thirty goals last year and finally starting to peak as a player, Duchene’s drop off in production might be the most disappointing thing about this season.

Will an Avalanche goalie record a shutout?

Logic says no. Calvin Pickard is typically good for one soft goal a game and Jeremy Smith isn’t ready to play at the NHL-level. Plus, think of the defense in front of them. There is none. Anytime Francois Beauchemin, Fedor Tyutin, Cody Goloubef, Patrick Wiercioch, or Tyson Barrie are on the ice; the opposing team more or less has free reign in the offensive zone. Put two of them on the ice together, and the opponent is guaranteed at least one high-quality scoring chance. Next, you have to factor in the fact that they are the 11th most penalized team in the league and have the 24th best penalty kill. Chances are, if the Avs take four or more penalties, the other team will score at least once. All of this adds up to the Avs likely finishing the season with three shutouts, which, amazingly, isn’t the worst mark in the league. Poor Florida.

Will youth be injected?

Not sure if you know this, but the Avs have a lot of bad players. Those bad players really weigh the good players down. J.T. Compher and Anton Lindholm have been a couple of bright spots for the team over the past couple of weeks. Both guys have spent the majority of the season in the AHL and don’t realize that the rest of the team stopped playing months ago. The Avs need more guys like them. There are plenty of players in San Antonio waiting for the opportunity to play hard and make an impression in the final ten games. The Avs have nothing to lose in calling up Rocco Grimaldi, A.J. Greer, and Duncan Siemens. They can’t be any worse than the likes of Carl Soderberg, Blake Comeau, and Fedor Tyutin. And if they are, the scouting department should probably be let go at the end of the year.

Can they avoid -113?

-113 was the goal differential of the actively tanking Buffalo Sabres in 2014-2015. It’s the worst goal differential in the shootout era. The Avs currently sit at -98. If they’re outscored by a 3-1 margin in the last ten games, they’ll finish with -118. In the last ten games, the Avs have been outscored 33-18, giving them a -15, which would tie the record. That means the Avs have to be one goal better in these final ten games to avoid further embarrassment. This is what the season has come to.

Will The Avalanche win?

The only non-playoff team the Avs will see in the final ten games will be the Dallas Stars in the second to last game of the season. Otherwise, they play eight games against West playoff teams (Edmonton, Calgary, Chicago, Minnesota, St. Louis) and one game against an East playoff team (Washington). The Avs haven’t beaten a playoff team since Montreal on February 7, and they haven’t defeated a West playoff team since Chicago way back on December 23. There’s an even split between road and home games, but that doesn’t really matter when you have the worst record at home and on the road. They’ll likely see the backup goalie in a few of these games, but they’ve seen the back-up in plenty of games this year, and it hasn’t exactly changed their fortunes. They have to luck out at least one win, right?

Ten more games. Thank God.